Japanese Characters

Introduction of character sets used in the Japanese language.

Three Types of Character Sets

昨夜のコンサートは最高でした。 (The concert last night was terrific.)
Hiragana: , , でした Katakana: コンサート Kanji: 昨夜, 最高

In Japanese, three types of character sets - Hiragana, Katakana and kanji (Chinese characters) are used in a mixed way.

Hiragana and Kanji are used widely to form a sentence. Katakana is used mostly for foreign loan words.

昨夜のコンサートは最高でした。 (The concert last night was terrific.)
Rōmaji: sakuya no konsāto wa saikō deshita.

Additionally, Rōmaji (Roman alphabet) is used mainly for the convenience of foreigners.

FAQ: What are the letters with a bar on top (ā ū ē ō)?

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Hiragana

Sample Hiragana Letters
あ い う え お か き く け こ さ し す せ そ が ぎ ぐ げ ご ぱ ぴ ぷ ぺ ぽ

Hiragana is a set of alphabet. Each letter represents the sound of a syllable. The letter itself has no meaning.

Hiragana has 46 basic letters and their modified forms.

See About Hiragana page for more details.

Learning Hiragana

Most students learn Hiragana at the very beginning of the study. It takes 3-20 days.

Hiragana Master Drill helps you to learn quickly how to read, write and type the Hiragana letters.

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Katakana

Sample Katakana Letters
ア イ ウ エ オ カ キ ク ケ コ サ シ ス セ ソ ガ ギ グ ゲ ゴ パ ピ プ ペ ポ

Katakana is another set of alphabet. Katakana and Hiragana alphabets represent exactly the same set of sounds.

Katakana also has 46 basic letters and their modified forms.

In modern age, Katakana is used mostly for foreign loan words.

See About Katakana page for more details.

Learning Katakana

Katakana is usually learned after Hiragana. It takes 3-20 days.

Katakana Master Drill helps you to learn quickly how to read, write and type the Katakana letters.

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Kanji

Sample Kanji Letters
川 月 木 心 火 左 北 今 名 美 見 外 成 空 明 静 海 雲 新 語 道 聞 強 飛

Kanji came from China. Pronunciation and usage have been modified to fit the Japanese language.

Each Kanji symbol has one or more way of readings and meanings.

Around 2,500 Kanji symbols are used in daily life.

See About Kanji page for more details.

Learning Kanji

Most students learn about 2,000 commonly used Kanji after mastering Hiragana and Katakana. It takes 1-3 years.

Kanji Master Drill helps you to learn quickly how to read, write and properly use the Kanji symbols.

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Rōmaji

Sample Rōmaji Letters
a i u e o ka ki ku ke ko sa shi su se so ā ū ō

Rōmaji describes the sound of Japanese in Roman alphabet.

It is mainly used for the convenience of foreigners. For example, name of the train station is written in Rōmaji.

See About Rōmaji page for more details.

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Related Topics

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Karaoke Song Album Dream Fighter - Perfume

Dream Fighter
by Perfume

Learn Japanese by singing!

Music video of the song

Lyrics in Rōmaji & Hiragana

Word by word translation